Water + Sunlight = Electricity?

Plants are typically regarded as the most efficient energy producers of the biological world, and I myself have imagined the possibility of harnessing their photosynthetic capabilities to generate sustainable energy. In my daydreaming, I visualized the biochemical transfer of a leaf’s photosynthetic output, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), down the plant’s stem and into a battery via some half-baked imaginary electrical conversion process. A possibility I had never before considered was that scientists were not focused on using the biological resources available to them, but rather mimicking and improving the processes carried out by their biological models. This recent development (late March, 2011) is described by Discover Magazine:

Scientists say that they’ve passed a chemistry milestone by creating the world’s first practical photosynthesis device. The playing-card-sized photosynthetic gadget uses sunlight to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, which can then be used to produce energy, and is reputedly 10 times more efficient than a natural leaf. Researchers say they expect it to revolutionize power storage, especially in remote areas that don’t currently have electricity. “A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades,” says lead researcher Daniel Nocera, who’s presenting this research at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society this week.

Full story here.

One thought on “Water + Sunlight = Electricity?

  1. Pingback: Nature Trumps « Raxa Collective

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